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Jimmy Carter’s Book “A Call to Action” — A Short Review

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This is my recent reading book, which is very interesting and easy read.

“A Call to Action”, an interesting and remarkable book written by Jimmy Carter followed by his own experiences and knowledge. The author was a former President of the United States, as well religious personnel, who believe in God and Christianity. His book emphasizes on prejudice, discrimination and violence against women and girls all around the world, he believes that would be the most serious, prevalent, and ignored violations of basic human rights. He profoundly stressed in his book that women’s issues have been twisted in holy texts to assert male dominance. He was encouraged to write this book by many leaders from different faiths, as well as wisdom and perspective, having traveled to over 145 countries and observer to a system of discrimination against women, and girls. He witnessed the notion that many women have been underprivileged from education, healthcare, and equal opportunity. His book also argued that women are systematically abused, neglected, exploited, and degraded in many countries around the world. His major argument is that people’s actions are conducted by international law, moral values, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Koran, the Bible, and some other texts, which emphasizes on justice, equality, and peace. In this book, he suggests twenty-three actions to improve the lives of women and girls. President Carter and his wife established a non-profit organization called, “The Carter Center” to fight against these unequal practices and treatment. I believe his book helps to understand the current global situation of women and role of religion that contributing gender discrimination and violence against women.

Carter brought up the issue of human rights in his book, he focuses on Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women. “Whereas the people of the United Nations have in the charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom… (15).” The UN charter’s article-1 says that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Carter argues that these are clear and undeniable commitments made by the world’s leaders; however, they are failing to implement their own promises. He states about the disturbing human rights abuses, ranging from the infanticide of millions of newborn girls and selective abortion of female fetuses, female genital damage, rape, and girl trafficking. His excellent understanding and advocacy about human rights and women’s issues that affects and impact our lives.

Mr. Carter mentioned that sexual assaults, rape, violence and warfare, genocide, slavery, prostitution, honor killing, genital cutting child marriage, and spouse abuses are shameful treatment towards women in the modern world, which is not acceptable and we should take an action against these reprehensible acts. He also covers many issues that affect women and girls in the U.S., such as the incident of sexual assaults and rape are treated with relative impunity on some college, and U.S. military. In addition, the current social practice in any nations, women gets fewer promotion, lower pay, and unequal representation in higher officials in politics, as well as other segments of society. His book really pours the frustration about the male dominated power structure through the government as well as some Evangelical Christians and the Catholic Church. He was irritated by some religious institutions when the Evangelical and Catholic Church have refused to encourage the use of condoms among the AIDS afflicted places in Africa. On the other hand, he acknowledged the practice of spouse abuse in many developing countries. He stated a statistic that the World Health organization reported in 2013 that more than a third of all women are victims of physical and sexual violence and the vast majority are attacked or abused by their husband and boyfriends (143). Another concern about women is honor killings, which is terrible custom weather legal or not prosecuted in some countries. Next, most serious and least understood example of abuse of women is the genital mutilation. It is unacceptable abuse and it can cause in lifelong health issues, including chronic infection, severe pain, and psychological disturbance.

There is a shocking fact about child marriage and dowry deaths in south Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, Middle East and North America. Girls from poor families are mostly affected by early marriage. This serous form of gender abuse happens because of tradition, gender role, poverty, and security reasons in many societies. In many societies, girls are not valued as much as boys, practically girls are seen as a burden of the family. Carter argues that these different kind of abuses against women has been backed up with religious myth, which would be misinterpreted by religious and social leaders.

The author mentioned, “there is one incontrovertible fact concerning the relationship between Jesus Christ and women: he treated them as equal to men, which was dramatically different from the prevailing custom of the times (23).” His book tries to infer with the text from the Bible and Quran to confirm that God made women and men equal. I believe it would be an important argument that express moral responsibility of religious leaders in different parts of the world to promote justice and equality for women. Subsequently, President Carter is against the fullness of prisons and the form of legal killing, such as capital punishment. He argues that it is clear that there are overwhelming ethical, financial, and religious reasons to abolish this brutal and irrevocable punishment (38). President Carter seems very frustrated with war and killing in many countries. International bombing raids and missile attacks on cities cause casualties of women, children, and elderly, and civil wars too, the destruction is not only the side of soldiers serving in the military, there is also abuse of women by military and others while war tends to remove normal inhibitions. He presents the evidence from 1930s and 40s that Japanese soldiers in Korea and China.

In general, this book is an exceptional overview of how religion and politics impact the status, health, and livelihood of women worldwide. It also opens many concerns about women and girls, who have been suffering through man dominated society all around the world and how should we react against these inhuman treatments against our girls. Carter’s book also offers precise ideas for working towards women’s issues and brutal practices in developed and underdeveloped countries. He does criticize the U.S. as well, he brought the facts that his closest urban center of Atlanta has the highest trafficking junction of women in the country. His writing seems very much fair in terms of speaking the truth. He clearly brought up his politics and religion in the book, an impressive example is that he left the Southern Baptist Convention after seventy years of affiliation because of change policies about women in ministry. He significantly emphasized his work towards women’s rights, gender equality, and justice, which would be productive work in the current world.

There are many positive aspects in his book; however, he put higher emphasizes on Christianity, carter center and lacks some of the evidences to support his arguments. I agreed that he has been working hard and honestly through the Carter Center, thus he could less elaborate on his book. On the other hand, he underlines the violent anti women nations of Islam and African culture, which may not be true. The practices throughout the Islamic, African, and Asian nations might not be cultural. I believe that there are many causes, (such as socio-economic, education, and status, ego) play a vital role to discriminate women in these countries.

President Carter’s book is very important to read, who has concerns about women’s issues. Mr. Carter is a great supporter and activist for women rights, human rights, and justices. It is amazing that he has been working more than half of the world through his organization in these issues. His experiences, knowledge, and powerful ideas are significantly helpful for the change in our society. As a religious person, he brought up a theory of association between religion and social practices. To understand about religion vaguely affects our social life, and many conflicts around the world has some sort of religious attachment, and we should acknowledge that facts, when we intervene in any of the issues. End of the book, he suggests very specific call for action in twenty-three points, which remind political and religious leaders of the abuse and their role to alleviate them.